Success or Failure? - 4

Even more unpacking motivation

This and the previous blog are based on research by Collie and Martin*.

There is one grouping that has very low estimations of their self-efficacy, who do not value their work and have little if any orientation towards mastery.  At the same time, they have little anxiety nor performance avoidance although they do suffer somewhat from a lack of clarity.  The researchers call this group ‘Failure Accepting’, an apt title since this group recognises they have little motivation to seek success but are not too concerned about avoiding failure.  This group represented 15% of the whole group.  Enjoyment levels in this group were the lowest in the survey and disengagement levels the highest.  This group operates in the red zone – there is no passion, no competence and likely, therefore, little connection with their students.

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The fourth group representing 22% of the sample, has high avoidance of failure – high in not feeling in control, high in anxiety and, not surprisingly, high in performance avoidance.  Self-efficacy is low as is valuing the work, yet they still have some sense of mastery orientation – they want to get better over time.  The researchers call this group ‘Failure Fearing’.  This group operates largely on the edge of the red zone, anxious, not clear what to do, avoiding difficult situations and people, avoiding taking risks such as introducing new practices, or changes in current practice.  In terms of well-being, this group shows little enjoyment nor buoyancy – each failure hits hard – and are disengaged.  It is tough being in this group and to move to the ‘Success Seeking’ would require considerable coaching and support from colleagues and leaders.  Again, this is a group operating in the red zone with periods of overwhelming negative emotion and self-talk, feelings of being the victim - the world is unfair, there is too much work, not enough time.

The fifth group is somewhat surprising, making up 22% of the sample, and positioned close to the middle of the Quadripolar Model.  Members of this group seem indifferent to seeking success nor are they concerned about avoiding failure.  The researchers label them as ‘Amotivated’, that is they are not really motivated at all by their work.  They turn up and do the work, which gives them no enjoyment, they are neither engaged nor disengaged, they just turn up.  Interestingly, their strongest well-being measure is buoyancy, they can handle setbacks and challenges, more so than the ‘Success Seeking’ group (previous blog).  It is possible that members of this group seek success (or avoid failure, although seeking success seems more likely given the buoyancy measure) in other areas of their lives.

Although this is not a demographically matched sample, the five profiles provide an approximate normal distribution and the characteristics of each group ring true to behaviours seen within the typical school.

* Adaptive and maladaptive work-related motivation among teachers: A person-centered examination and links with well-being - Rebecca J. Collie, Andrew J. Martin – UNSW February 2017

John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter.

John Corrigan